It might be just this season, but the High School League’s Weekend of Champions, which culminates basketball’s March Madness, is more like a Survivor Series.
That’s because COVID-19 pandemic could determine who wins, and who is out of the 16-team playoff brackets. The pandemic has done a number on the season as some teams played about 30-35 percent of the games on their original schedule. Teams now hunker down and try to stay safe and social distance while dreaming of the ultimate championship.
That’s the key to this point of the season, which now transitions into playoffs. It was that situation last fall when the prohibitive favorite First Baptist team had to withdraw from the SCISA state football playoffs because of the virus.
Right now, the Bishop England boys and girls teams are in the Class AAA playoffs after winning Region 8-AAA titles. The Philip Simmons girls won the Region 6-AA title, while the boys finished second. The Iron Horses will play in a mini-tourney to determine the
No. 2 seed in the region. The Iron Horses were scheduled to play Lake Marion at home Friday and with a win, would advance to play the winner of the Burke-Timberland matchup on Tuesday.
“I didn’t know what to expect when (the virus) shut down sports last year,” Philip Simmons athletic director Dan Minkins said. “It’s been extreme and unpredictable, but it’s a credit to the High School League and Berkeley County to allow us to play. It’s a great mental distraction from all that’s going on. You just go out and try the next hurdle, knowing anything can happen.”
That was the case for Bishop England last week, when the Bishops needed a victory over North Charleston to clinch the region title. But the North Charleston boys team canceled the remainder of its season because of the virus, giving the Bishops the title.
The BE girls played the Cougars and won to remain perfect in league play.
The Bishops canceled their final two regular-season games to stay safe and focus on the playoffs, which begin Feb. 20.
“Why risk it. Why take any chances? We made it this far and all we are focused on is staying healthy and staying safe,” said Bishop England’s Paul Runey, the school’s AD and girls’ basketball coach.
The Philip Simmons girls open the playoffs at home on Feb. 20. A victory would give the Iron Horses a state quarterfinal game at home on Feb. 24.